Monday, February 21, 2011

What do Americans really want?

America’s new Congressional majority justifies its actions to repeal health care reform by saying, “It is clear Americans want to do away with Obamacare.”  It saddens me to realize how fickle public opinion can be and how it can be manipulated.

During the presidential race, one of the strong points of the Obama campaign pledges was to do something about health care. As a matter of fact, millions of Americans are without health care coverage; and although, in this country, we do have the best medical technology in the world, we have one of the poorest health care systems.  Unfortunately, the real death panels in America are those which allow millions of Americans, many of them children, to perish for lack of access to adequate health care.  

It seems since the campaign rhetoric discussing health care in America and the time that health care reform was presented to Congress, there has been a shift in public opinion.  Current polls show slightly more Americans favor doing away with the recent health care reforms than those wanting to keep it.  Republicans talk as though there has been a big shift in public opinion simply because Americans have awakened to the fact that what they describe as “Obamacare” is not a good thing.  Because of such a shift in public we should take a look at exactly why the current opinion runs with the Republicans and against keeping health care reform.  This shift in opinion did not occur simply because Americans have now realized health care reform is a mistake.  

Unfortunately, too many Americans are buying into the Republican blather that health care would be much better if we simply let the market control and provide health care.  The principal reason there is such a prevalence of this attitude is the fact that money interests in the United States have now spent almost one million dollars per member of Congress.  Special interests provide 4 lobbyists per member of Congress and millions in advertisement and public “spin-doctors.”   All in order to persuade Americans that health care reform is bad.
If closely examined, the idea of solving the problem of so many millions of Americans with no health coverage could be solved by the free market is one of the most irrational things ever dreamed up.  The free market on health coverage is the market provided by insurance companies.  Insurance companies do not give a trifle about trying to relieve suffering or provide people with adequate health care.  The whole game of health insurance companies is to avoid giving sick people, or people likely to be sick, any health coverage whatsoever.  Insurance companies make money by avoiding payment of doctors and hospitals, not by providing service good for America or individual Americans.

If you ask conservative Americans whether or not they believe in personal responsibility, they would quickly answer, “Yes.”  The whole theory behind mandatory liability insurance for drivers is to make sure people driving protect other drivers in the event they injure them through their own negligence.  Similarly, healthy people who refuse to purchase insurance to cover their own illnesses or injuries put us all at risk.  If they are injured or fall ill and cannot pay for their own medical needs, we, those of us who pay, pick up the cost through higher insurance premiums, or through our tax dollars which provide for charitable health care.

Persons without health insurance coverage, who present themselves to the emergency rooms of our hospitals, annually run up billions in uncompensated health care.  Hospitals do not pick up this tab alone.  They make it up in increasing charges for those of us who pay for hospital services.  The amount we pay is not determined by someone we elect; but rather an insurance executive or hospital administrator decides what it will cost us for these uninsured victims who present themselves to the hospital.

If all Americans were responsible enough to provide for their own medical needs, the needs of all American citizens would be met at much lesser cost.  Substantial reduction in medical costs in America would move our economy forward more than any other single item.  Not only would it provide lower cost health care, but it would improve health care for us all. 

P. T. Barnum once said there is a sucker born every minute.  Those Americans who believe the free market will ultimately provide adequate health care for all Americans simply prove the truth of P. T. Barnum’s words.

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